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2018 - The Farm


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#201 TrentL

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 08:07 AM

You are really putting in the hours Trent! I can't wait to see those tables upstairs when they are full! Let alone the feild pics. You really are doing a service to the rest of us with your experiments too. I never document much of anything, if it wasn't for this site, i probably wouldn't even take so many pictures!

 

 

I need to find out what works for me, and that involves some experimenting. Tinkering. Tweaking. 

 

It's how I learn. I screw things up, figure out what went wrong, and try something different. So this year is bound to be one big screw up. :)



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#202 TrentL

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 01:11 PM

Got the first round of pot-ups going, got 61 done so far. Unfortunately I don't have any idea when the lights for the farm are going to show up, and there's only so many I can pot-up and squeeze in the grow room at home. So I'll be kind of stuck for a little bit. That's OK though, a bit of a lag will tell me if this first potting soil mix I made is going to be too strong for the little guys. 

 

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Edited by TrentL, 17 February 2018 - 01:13 PM.


#203 Devv

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 07:00 PM

THOSE ARE ROOKIE NUMBERS! YOU GOTTA PUMP UP THOSE NUMBERS!

 

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Thank you! They really need some nutrients though. They're getting a little long in the tooth to still be living in peat and coir without so much as a whiff of fertilizer.

 

Quite a few of those will get transplanted this weekend. FINALLY have water at the farm. Although.. it's high in sulfer. Damn well water there smells like rotten eggs!

 

 

I'm sure I'll have a few extras!

 

 

It is TEDIOUS, my man. I am now spending about an hour and a half each night doing data entry. 

 

The mix trays are the worst. I'm using old Burpee Plant-O-Gram sheets to track what is going on there;

 

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For the full trays I just use a spiral notebook journal;

 

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Then I bring the papers upstairs, do the data entry in to excel;

 

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To get data on the full trays on a daily basis I insert new lines with that day's counts

 

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That gives me a pivot table of sprouts / day

 

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And I skew it based on # days to germination to get a comparison sheet since not all trays were planted at the same time. I can go back then and examine germination rates along the various experiments (e.g. scotch bonnets in straight coir vs. coir + vermiculite + kelp meal, or whatever)

 

Xl1ijWp.png

 

At that point I also have another pivot table which I can see my germination date ranges (separated by vendor when appropriate if I get the same seeds from different vendors; there's some surprising deviation; e.g. 7-pot primo reds from Buckeye are sprouting at 7-8 days while pepperlover's 7-pot primo reds are sprouting at *20* days; I'll bet you money those come out different phenos...)

 

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1st true leaves (and later, a transplants table) will give me some insight in to differences in plant development based on what amendments I add to the soil. My gut hunch is true leaf and transplant development will be faster with seeds sown in soil containing worm castings, kelp meal, ant other "very light" additives (not adding bone meal, blood meal, or other heavy duty stuff until I pot-up). But at a tradeoff - as I run the risk of mold / fungus from the organic additives destroying entire trays. The big question to answer, from a production standpoint, is it cost effective to more rapidly develop seedlings while they are still in the sprouting trays? Does it accelerate time to transplant? What risk do I incur of wiping out a batch of seedlings from potential nute burn? 

 

Lots of questions to answer. But this sheet, and the "transplants" one (which I still have to build) will tell me the answers to those.

 

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And of course it's all a moot point without knowing what is in what tray... so this sheet tracks the amendments added so I can reference it by tray #

 

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At the end of the grow I'll circle back around and integrate #/% Germinated / #/% transplanted in to this aggregate view

 

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Anyway, that's how I'm going about things this year. Whole reason is to get me a resource for NEXT year. THIS year, it's just a big pain in the ass. :)

 

At least having to do the daily ritual of counts and data entry, I don't run the risk of neglecting the plants. I'm looking at every cell, every day... so if something goes sideways (mold, dry cells) I'm able to handle it right away.

 

 

My 2 cents on germing and seedlings. Get them up and growing, when they get put in the first pots, @ 2nd or 3rd true leaves, then add the goodies. AKA nutes, minerals etc. This should save you time and money ;) I didn't hit my gals with anything until I went to the #1 pots. They were soaked in 1/4 strength Alaska fish ferts. I also added the Azomite and worm castings at that time. But what I'm doing is for a garden, and not a farm.

 


It's all about the pods....


#204 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:09 AM

 

My 2 cents on germing and seedlings. Get them up and growing, when they get put in the first pots, @ 2nd or 3rd true leaves, then add the goodies. AKA nutes, minerals etc. This should save you time and money ;) I didn't hit my gals with anything until I went to the #1 pots. They were soaked in 1/4 strength Alaska fish ferts. I also added the Azomite and worm castings at that time. But what I'm doing is for a garden, and not a farm.

 

 

I'm just curious to see if there is any developmental differences worth noting. Conventional wisdom seems to be put seeds in peat or coir (or wet paper towel, but that don't work so well for bulk), put in a warm place and forget about it for 2 weeks. :)

 

But by the time they're setting true leaves, already see signs of nute deficiency - yellowing leaves, stalled growth, etc. I noticed quite a big difference in root development w/ the sprouting trays with azomite when I was potting up. I didn't take measurements (not even sure how, short of destroying plants, washing roots, and measuring them?) So I didn't report on it other than a quick mention here. 

 

Maybe later I can do a root-only destructive experiment and wash/weigh root mass to get comparables on that. We all know root development is key to big healthy plants later. 

 

There was a university study on green bell peppers I read a few weeks back where they were testing whether hardening plants before shipment (by starving them, basically) was actually helpful for crop development. The conventional wisdom there was nurseries which withhold nutrients and cut down on watering to plants a week before they shipped to fields would reduce transplant shock and increase yield. But the study found that a shot of potassium and nitrogen in the proper proportions immediately prior to shipping led to earlier and bigger yields. It tossed 40 years of "best practices" on their heads and increased profitability per acre over a thousand bucks in produce on the test crops. (This one was done in NC).

 

Another study was on cell / tray size, and found out that while more expensive to plant, 72 cell trays vs. 216 cell trays for sweet pepper crops cost a grand more an acre to produce and ship, but led to earlier fruits and bigger harvests; over $3500 an acre more profitable, even given the higher cost of production and shipping to fields. (That study was done in KY)

 

My take on those, is we're a long way from having a full understanding of everything. And conventional wisdom, while it works just fine, isn't the end-all of everything. 

 

So I want to tinker and experiment some. :)



#205 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:32 AM

Well there's a 1st. I had a seed head espanola that sprouted 2/7 (seeded 1/26) that the seed head broke off on, in tray 2. I wrote it off and wrote "DEAD" on the sheet back on 2/11.

When I did counts last time I noted it had true leaves. I went back and looked, and sure as hell out of that bare stem, it popped out a true leaf that's growing rapidly now. 

 

I'm nicknaming that one my super zombie plant. It survived a damn head shot. :)

 

Come hell or high water I'm going to save that bastard - if it made it through THAT, it'll make it through anything.

 



#206 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:45 AM

Also had one "sprout" that looked a little goofy. White with no leaves? Really? 

 

I dug it up and sure as hell the seed head was buried in the soil and it was shooting it's root up through the surface!

 

I turned that idiot plant around the right way.

 

What a dumbass. :)

 



#207 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:55 AM

Oh hell, here's a substantial finding worth reporting

 

After 6 days, these two Aji Cereza trays are showing something substantial;

 

nCIrtlg.png

 

Tray 25 has *1* sprout.

 

Tray 28 has *24* sprouts.

 

The only real difference (since the nutes don't really matter on sprouting) is the vermiculite.

 

Tray 25 had a 5 part coir to 1 part vermiculite (roughly) mix. 

 

Tray 28 was 100% coir. 

 

I *thought* the trays which showed lower / slower sprouting % was because of pearlite, but now I have evidence that's indicating vermiculite as a culprit. 

 

Which sucks because I used it in a lot of trays. :)

 



#208 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:59 AM

Well, no longer putting down rookie numbers. Had my first triple-digit new sprout count. Things will steamroll now.

 

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The vermiculite thing is also showing up on tray 22 vs. 28 (MOA scotch bonnets). Tray 28 has 8 sprouts after 6 days. On day 6, Tray 22 only had 5.  Tray 8 (also 100% coir) showed 7 sprouts after day 6. That's not nearly as wide of a margin as those Aji cerezas showed, but still worth noting. It'll be interesting to track the differences in those three trays. One is a control (100% coir, no additives) - then two others with various amendments. MOA scotch bonnets, because I am growing more of them, became my test dummies. Although I'm concerned about results on those because the seed packs I got from pepperlover had a load of dark seeds in them.. also curious to see what happens from that... 

 

 

 

 


Edited by TrentL, 18 February 2018 - 10:01 AM.


#209 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 10:25 AM

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These are some interesting results.

 

Coir sprouts faster than peat. This has been proven across the board on the test trays; but what is interesting is vermiculite and pearlite slows this sprouting down by 2-3 days. 

 

This is readily apparent on the two trays planted the same day, where the big difference was the absence of vermiculite. 24 sprouts (33%) emerged on day 6 on the tray without vermiculite. WITH vermiculite, 1 sprout (1.3%)

 

In about 2-3 weeks I should have final data on this stuff - with regards to true leaf development rates and transplant readiness. 

 

But this is already giving me a lot of useful data - hopefully useful to you guys too! 

 

When I do the annuum grow in a few weeks, after these are vacated to the farm, I'll refine the experiments and see if I can pin down some of the cause & effects better.

 



#210 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 10:34 AM

Another thing I will determine is # of seed heads / deaths due to seed head. 

 

While straight coir sprouts faster, seedlings that emerge are VERY noticeably affected by seed heads. I'm seeing rates as high as 50% seed heads in some straight coir trays. 

 

Tray 8, MOA Scotch Bonnet, is 100% coir and has 29 sprouts with 16 seed heads (55%!)

 

Tray 15, MOA scotch Bonnet, is a 5:1 mix of coir and vermiculite, and has 23 sprouts with only *2* seed heads (8.6%)

 

That's a HUGE difference. 

 

My theory is the slower sprouting on vermiculite is due to the seed hull getting "stuck" on the way up by the vermiculite. This gives the plant a couple extra days under the soil to mature, and helps shed the hull before it pops up.

 

Meanwhile the straight coir trays have no real resistance to speak of and hooks pop up the head pretty much right away - 2 days faster in most cases.

 

The end result is a LOT more plant deaths because they can't shed the hull then. SOME grow out of it, but not all, and the ones that don't simply die off.

 

This is backed up by the experimental trays where I noted 200% higher deaths due to seed-head than trays with vermiculiite and coir. 

 

Sure, the "pure" trays sprouted faster. But if you lose 20% or more of your sprouts to seed heads, that is a pretty big number! 

 

20% "waste" on a large grow is substantial. The addition of vermiculite might slow up sprouting but if it helps make sure sprouts that emerge are viable... damn. That's huge. 

 

 

 



#211 CMJ

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 10:46 AM

Also had one "sprout" that looked a little goofy. White with no leaves? Really? 
 
I dug it up and sure as hell the seed head was buried in the soil and it was shooting it's root up through the surface!
 
I turned that idiot plant around the right way.
 
What a dumbass. :)
 

Thats some funny shiz right there!

#212 Chilidude

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 11:27 AM

Use nail clippers to cut the seed hull edges off to help the seedling shed the seed hulls.



#213 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 12:02 PM

Use nail clippers to cut the seed hull edges off to help the seedling shed the seed hulls.

 

Dude I'm growing 5,000 plants this year for a half acre grow. Next year I'll likely do 4x that for 2 acres. No way I'll have time for that.

 

If adding a bit of vermiculite is all it takes to cut the incidence of seed heads down, that'll be the production plan moving forward. What I'm seeing is it holds up sprouting a couple of days - keeps the seed hull of the hook under the soil a bit longer, which lets the plant more easily shed it. With straight peat or coir it's just letting the hook pop up before it can shed the hull. Then the hull immediately dries in the open air and becomes rock hard; the plant *might* be able to grow out of it, but more often than not, it's fatal.

 

The other problem is when you cut a hull off you get dwarf cotys. Tiny little leaves. That stalls the plant out for a week or longer compared to ones that shed the hull nauturally. So there's not much benefit to it.

 

If there are any green leaves popping out of the hull when it pops up, even a tiny spec of green, they tend to shed the hull naturally within a week and they develop normally. Meanwhile clipping them off prematurely lets tiny curled leaves get light, and they immediately stop growing. The plant stalls for quite a long time. I've seen this on EVERY one that I surgically removed from the test trays. 

 

The rate of seed heads as a % of population is very variety dependent. I'm not seeing it at all on some species (bigger seeds are appearing to shed easier?) while on stuff like MOA Scotch Bonnets it is rampant.

 

Getting that under control is important. 

 

When I grow the Annuums out I'm going to test a couple of concepts. One will be a controlled experiment on straight coir vs. straight coir with a layer of vermiculite on top, vs. straight coir with a layer of pearlite on top. If the pearlite / vermiculite in the soil is cutting down on the seed head %, but doing so intermittently (randomly) depending on whether the seed encounters a bit of if on the way "up", then it stands to reason that a *layer* of the stuff on the top of the soil would change that from a random % to a near certainty that the seed would encounter resistance on the way up.

 

The downside is it would be tougher to tell by visual inspection when a tray needs watered. I'd have to weigh them to know how "dry" they are. But the layer of either vermiculite or pearlite would at least help stop water evaporation loss (or .. so I think?). Might also be hard to see when / if mold / fungus gets in to a cell. 

 

I have enough seeds left to do one more scotch bonnet experiment so I have another point of comparison as well on that.


Edited by TrentL, 18 February 2018 - 12:05 PM.


#214 Chilidude

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 12:20 PM

Then using rockwool cubes or the coco coir with the perlite etc. will sort those seedling hull thing then.



#215 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 12:26 PM

Tray 15 MOA Scotch bonnet; 5:1 coir / vermiculite

 

2/17 23 sprouts, 2 seed heads (< 10%)

 

Now it looks like a couple more popped. (ETA: That topmost circle is nor a seed head, just checked the tray; there are only 3 / 24 at this point (12.5%)

kQvLlE8.jpg

 

Tray 8 MOA scotch bonnet; straight coir

 

M5NHQlN.jpg

 

29 sprouts, 16 seed heads (> 50%) 

 

I see similar data accumulating now on other species.

 

Tray 10 Big Sun Habanero; 100% coir

Day 7: 15 sprouts, 5 seed heads (33%)

Day 9: 34 sprouts, 9 Seed heads (26.4%)

Day 10: 55 sprouts, 4 seed heads (7.2%) - 5 seed heads were shed naturally. It looks like the other 4 will be fatal.

 

Tray 19 - Big sun Habanero - 5:1 coir / vermiculite

Day 7: 18 sprouts, 0 seed heads (0%) 

 

 

In the end I'll also have fatality data which is what I'm really after. If it tracks with the test trays, the straight unaltered growing media will show about 200% higher death rates than the trays with vermiculite, attributed to seed head deaths. (That's the remaining ones which don't get shed naturally; the head eventually falls off and the stem dies)

 


Edited by TrentL, 18 February 2018 - 12:27 PM.


#216 Walchit

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 12:45 PM

Vermiculite holds a lot of water, maybe that extra moisture helps keep the seed wetter in turn helping it come off? Just my two cents

#217 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 01:20 PM

Vermiculite holds a lot of water, maybe that extra moisture helps keep the seed wetter in turn helping it come off? Just my two cents

 

A dry layer on top of the soil also lets the seed head pop out a whole lot easier. I've noticed that there are clusters of seed heads on whichever side of the tray tends to be "drier" than the other side. I don't have any hard data on it other than observations though. (And those gut feelings *do* tend to pan out in research)

 

I think it's a combination of moisture and resistance that keeps it under the soil long enough for cotys to emerge. The hull has to stay moist and under soil long enough for those leaves to start. If it pops out of the soil too early, it's done. If there's even a little bit of coty growth before that happens it tends to grow out just fine.

 

I am speculating that a thin layer of pearlite or vermiculite on top of the soil will give enough resistance to hold that head down where it's damp long enough for the hull to shed or (at the very least) for leaves to grow.



#218 TrentL

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 08:53 PM

It's gonna be a jungle in here soon.

 

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Got some more potting up done. 89 peppers are in 4" pots now. A dozen tomato plants also joined the potting soil experiment and got moved to 4" pots. Two more went to my mothers house along with an older grow light I'm not using, with a couple gallons of my "C" mix for testing with purple african flower-thingies.

 

r2oG3pi.jpg

 

Azomite had zero noticeable effect *above* the soil but there was a lot going on under the soil. The roots of this one were wrapped around the bottom of the starter pod about 6 times. Root development in the tray with azomite was *far* superior than the trays without it.  I don't have hard data points but my observations show about 50-100% more root development and branching with the azomite, than without it. It was *that* noticeable.

 

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Well now they have new digs.

 

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I'm also trying another experiment. Pulled 1 seedling out of each of the first 4 production trays and moved them right to a 4" pot, each 2 days after emergence. This is a test on how the seedlings will do being moved immediately to a fertilized mix. The other cells in the sprouting tray will be allowed to develop naturally and will get transplanted when they start their second set of true leaves. The tray is strait coir, unfertilized, and will not get fertilizer added to it. 

 

P4CM2PI.jpg

 

I don't know if those seedlings will survive. I'm going to pot-up another seedling every 3 days and gauge the differences in growth between them. The goal here is to find "earliest possible transplant" date where a seedling can be expected to survive going straight to a fertilized potting soil mix, and then to gauge the effects of growth based on such an early transplant shock.

 

It feels so stupidly wrong to transplant things so young but I .. well, I just *gotta* know what happens. Ya know?

 

The "not plant porn" part of the grow room. 

 

csvtzEE.jpg

 

I haven't shown a picture yet of the dirty underbelly of the plant cave, but there it is. The other side has mixing crap, broom, trays, and a garbage bucket. Nothing special. Very limited workspace down there; I end up mixing soil outside this room where I have more room to work, then bring it in. 

 

It's uncomfortable to work in there. I only have 18" between tables so it's quite a squeeze for a normal sized man to get in and out. 

 

 


Edited by TrentL, 18 February 2018 - 08:55 PM.


#219 PtMD989

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 12:31 AM

Are you doing similar growing experiments on your tomatoes? If so,is the results similar to the pepper data?


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#220 TrentL

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 04:15 AM

Are you doing similar growing experiments on your tomatoes? If so,is the results similar to the pepper data?


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Yes I will be doing a controlled experiment on Amish Paste tomatoes. 

 

I have a tray of Ace 55's I'm testing out in various potting soils as they may show nute deficiencies or toxicities differently than peppers, being that they are so much faster growing they might serve as a canary for the slower growing peppers. The first 10 of those went in to "Mix C" today. I figure I numbered my trays, I'll letter my different potting soil mixes.

 

The tomatoes hit first true leaf and totally stalled out (but otherwise healthy), they're just sitting there not doing much of anything in the coir right now.

 

Something else odd.

 

The trays that got super-hot (114+F) early on, which didn't sprout any of the 'fast growing things' just surprised the hell out of me today.

 

23 days in from date of seeding, I had cayenne, garden salsa, turkish sweet ball, elephant trunk, and harbiye sprout today, along with aji dulce, bhut jolokia chocolate, bhut jolokia yellow, and 7-pot chiguanas.

 

23 days germination on annuum peppers? That's almost mind boggling. But it happened across three trays, so it's not just an oddball. 

 

It's almost like the high heat didn't *kill* them, but rather, just made them all go dormant for a while. Cayenne were the dead giveaways something was weird here. In the past those have always sprouted stupid fast and grew even faster.

 

The only remaining peppers which haven't sprouted at this point;

 

Brown Moruga

Dorset Naga

Habanero Orange

Habanero Red

Matay

Stuffing Cherry

Sugar Cane

Sweet French Bell

Thai Orange

Tobago Seasoning

 

 

There's no rhyme or reason to it. The test trays were laid out like this (all 6 of the first test trays had the same cell arrangement)

 

I highlighted the cells which produced nothing in all 6 trays.

 

VSJlXEF.png

 

So I dunno. 0 for 6 after 23 days on 10 different varieties is just odd.

 

Then again it's possible it's just the crappy germination rates I've got from them getting too hot doing it to me.

 

After 23 days the overall germination rates on the first three trays, in order, are;

 

67%
53%
63%
 
After 14 days the germination rates on the second set of test trays (coir) are
60%
56%
57%
 
Not exactly stellar numbers there. 
 
I'm wondering if the peat pH is off in the first 3 trays. I never did get around to checking that. Having acidic pH would explain a lot of the odd things I've seen in the first three trays of peat. Seedling cotys turning yellow. Dwarf leaves. Malformed true leaves. Poor root development. Shitty germination rates. Death of all fast growing plants (excepting four; biker billies, teken dolmasi, fresno, and turkish cayenne; those absolutely thrived)
 
I think I"ll pick a sacrificial cell from the remaining ones  I haven't potted up, and get off my ass and do a pH test tomorrow.
 
I'll also do a pH test on our (rather hard) water that I've been using to water them. I always get a day or two of "few sprouts" following a watering followed by a day of "jeeezus look at all that damn data entry I gotta do" period. A theory I just formed is that my water has a high pH (it's probably above 8), which temporarily buffers out the acidic peat. It would also explain a few things with the coir, as I get no growth at all and some nute deficiency signs after I water (pH goes high, which stops a lot of nutrient uptake) then it slowly goes back to around 6.5 where the coir should be sitting naturally.
 
 
 

Edited by TrentL, 19 February 2018 - 04:19 AM.





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